Chicago Archdiocese to close schools, cut jobs

February 28, 2013 5:49:48 PM PST
The Archdiocese of Chicago will lay off approximately 10-percent of its employees.

A letter from Francis Cardinal George to parishioners explains that 60 jobs have been eliminated, along with 15 positions that had not been filled. That's 75 positions total.

The archdiocese is also closing or consolidating five schools: Saint Gregory the Great High School, Saint Helena of the Cross, and Saint Paul Our Lady Of Vilna in Chicago; as well as Saint Kieran in Chicago Heights and Saint Bernadine in Forest Park.

Cardinal George says the cuts are due to a budget deficit -- and he hopes to have the budget balanced in two years.

The principal of Saint Paul Our Lady Of Vilna school Dr. Roy Pletsch found out in December 2012 that his school was on the archdiocese's list for closure. But he's known since he started his job three years ago the school's future was in jeopardy.

"The diocese did the omen work here, helping to support us to stay open. And, we were grateful to them, but we know that the time is up and that we couldn't make up the money that they were formerly feeding into our school," he said.

It's simple math, according to Pletsch. The school costs too much to run and brings in too few dollars.

"I worry about the teachers getting jobs and the kids getting a good school," Pletsch said.

St. Paul Our Lady of Vilna was built 125 years ago. Thousands of students have gotten their Catholic elementary school education there. But this year's student's will make up the last class.

"It's hard," St. Paul Our Lady of Vilna parent Maria Gomez said. "Scary for me."

The school is committed to helping parents send their children here regardless of what they can pay. The archdiocese has made up the difference but no longer. That will end when the school closes after this school year.

"The diocese has done yeoman's work," Pletsch said. "We knew the time was up."